Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti

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The assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse, 53-year-old, last Wednesday reverberated around the world. Many wonder how it was possible to penetrate the guarded presidential residence, pump a dozen bullets into Moïse’s body and critically injure his wife, Martine Moïse who is now recovering in a United States hospital, and both of whom would have had round the clock security protection.

As details continue to unfold around the tragic incident, what is becoming evidently clear is that this invasion into the President’s residence was no ordinary act but one that was carefully choreographed and executed with international input. Reportedly, the armed group allegedly responsible for the heinous crime included scores of people, amongst them being two Americans and retired members of the Columbian military.

Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, in a Reuters report, said that while the attackers spoke both English and Spanish and they disguised themselves as United States drugs agents, he does not believe they were.  But there is also the claim by a former senator and prominent opposition politician, Steven Benoit, who in an interview with a local radio station said,  “The president was assassinated by his own guards, not by the Colombians.”

It stands to reason, if any of the president’s guards played a role, which this publication is in no position to refute or confirm, any such support could not be independent of new information that continues to come in about the players involved in the brazen attack.  The White House last Friday announced that at the request of Haiti, the Joe Biden administration will be sending members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Homeland Security to the island where they will assess the situation and provide assistance on security and the investigation.

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The United Nations has called for calm, and it is said the capital, Port-au-Prince, where the killings occurred is quiet. Within recent times Haiti has been experiencing political and social upheavals, not unlike Venezuela and Brazil, resulting in Haitians fleeing. The Wednesday tragedy will escalate the crisis, particularly where there is a power vacuum and uncertainty about who is in charge, even as the Constitution expressly outlines the procedure to appoint or elect the president.

Haiti successfully emerging from this crisis will depend on the support Haitians receive from around the world. Haiti is a member-state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and it becomes necessary for the activation of brotherhood within the Secretariat, and amongst member and associate-states. Collectively they must critically examine the present crisis through humanitarian lens. The Government of Guyana cannot continue to treat Haitians as pariahs. Lest it be forgotten, there was a time when Guyanese fled to Canada and other parts of the Caribbean, North America and European and sought asylum status using various pretexts.

The crisis in Haiti is real. Guyana and CARICOM cannot be observers but must be active participants in helping Haiti and Haitians on the island and any who seek to relocate or escape what is evidently a tenuous situation. In moments of crises, as the U.S, United Kingdom and other European countries did for those in Haiti, and the parts of the Middle East and Africa torn by strife in removing visa restriction, there could not be a worse time for Guyana to impose such restriction. Humanitarian and CARICOM sisterhood ought to dictate otherwise.



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